If it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a vision to raise the consciousness of a community. Fortunately there are innovators and forward-thinking individuals here in Benicia whose vision is inspiring a whole new way of looking at growth and progress through the lens of sustainability. One such self-described “futurist” is Constance Beutel, the brainchild and driving force behind the Benicia Clean Tech Expo, now in its second year. “New technologies are inspiring a renaissance of thinking,” says Beutel. The idea behind the expo is to raise awareness about emerging clean technologies that create jobs, increase economic vitality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to Beutel, Benicia is “well-poised to be a player in the clean tech revolution.”

In addition to working in telecommunications for 30 years, Beutel holds a Ph.D. in Education; and served in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserves, where she earned the Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal. Today, she teaches Education and Technology and Education and Sustainability classes at the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, Ohio, during summer months; and is the videographer for Dominican University’s Institute for Leadership Studies. She lives in Benicia with her two Scottie dogs.

In partnership with the City’s Community Sustainability Commission and Economic Development Department, the expo will celebrate Benicia’s existing clean tech companies, invite exhibitors and attendees to
see what’s happening in the industry and encourage companies outside of town to locate here. The emphasis is on clean transportation, which is expected to be a big draw for attendees who can check out a range of e-bikes and e-vehicles. Other exhibitors include representatives from the clean building, manufacturing, engineering and recycling industries, and from educational communities such as Dominican University, the Sonoma State University Center for Sustainable Communities and Solano Community College. Benicia Magazine will be exhibiting as well, showcasing a commitment to green printing practices. 

One outgrowth of last year’s expo was the Solano Clean Tech Innovators Association (SCTIA). The group is working on a venue for a “maker’s space” where kids and adults can see and use new technologies in 3-D lasers and printing and CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/manufacturing). “We are at a hinge of history facing monumental challenges as we sweep out old ways of thinking about manufacturing, We have new potential for a maker’s revolution, using clean technologies and global connections, to do something really exciting,” enthuses Beutel. “The expo allows a glimpse into things that have happened and those that are forthcoming, that don’t require big government or major corporations. It’s something scalable that we can do in our own community.”

The Benicia CleanTech Expo 2013 will be held at the Clock Tower, 1189 Washington Street, Benicia, Friday 10/18, 1-6pm and Saturday 10am-4pm.